A new social media campaign is encouraging people of Arab descent to embrace their looks by posting selfies on Twitter in order to challenge traditional Western beauty norms and stereotypes of Middle Easterners.
The campaign encourages both women and men to share photos on Twitter with the hashtag #TheHabibatiTag, which originates from the Arabic word “habibti,” which is translated as “my love” or “my darling.”
The Twitter-based campaign was created by Palestinian-American students Sarad Mahmoud and Yara Assadi, and the hashtag has been used tens of thousands of times.
“The only representation we get as Middle Easterners and North Africans in the media is when an act of hate or terror occurs,” Mahmoud told the BBC.
“Growing up I never saw a woman who looked like me on TV. And because of that, I felt like I wasn’t beautiful,” she continued.
Assadi echoed Mahmoud’s sentiments, adding that she wanted to create a supportive network for girls of Arab descent who struggle with the implications of Western beauty norms.
“I’ve grown up thinking that my hair and skin and my nose and my eyes and my body were less beautiful just because I didn’t fit into America’s idea of beauty,” Assadi said.
“This hashtag had created a mini community for girls like me to embrace our beauty and feel like we aren’t alone in the struggle to feel beautiful in a world where we are told that we are nothing but terrorists,” she added.
— الجمال العربي (@BeautyArabian) September 10, 2015